Give us a call
Email us

Proprietary estoppel claims

If you were relying on a promise of inheritance in a will and weren’t included in a will, you may be able to make a proprietary estoppel claim.

It is not uncommon for people to make promises during their lifetime about who will receive their assets following their death. If these promises are sufficiently clear and relied upon, they can be enforced.

Proprietary estoppel is a legal concept to enforce a broken promise if the decision has left you at a disadvantage. This is usually, but not always, in a financial sense. This type of claim often arises in connection with family businesses, especially farming businesses, where someone has been encouraged to work for no or low pay on the understanding assets will eventually pass to them.

How our proprietary estoppel claim lawyers can help

Our expert proprietary estoppel solicitors have a depth of experience in helping clients to claim proprietary estoppel.

We understand that bringing a proprietary estoppel claim isn’t a decision taken lightly. Proprietary estoppel normally involves family members or those close to you. We will handle your claim with care and sensitivity.

We will work to understand your objectives and priorities, placing these at the centre of what we do. We will guide you through your proprietary estoppel claim to ensure it is resolved on the best terms possible.

We will talk openly about fees and work with you to understand the best funding option for your claim. In appropriate cases, we can offer deferred payment and “no win, no fee” agreements.

All of our solicitors belong to the Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS). The team and many individuals are top-ranked in leading legal directories, including the Legal 500 and Chambers High Net Worth guide. You will be looked after by an expert who will guide you through the process step by step.

Meet the team

Frequently asked questions

Proprietary estoppel is a legal remedy to enforce a broken promise. It is sometimes the case that an individual will make life decisions based on what they are expecting to inherit, for example, turning down career opportunities to work at a family farm or other business as it has been promised as an inheritance.
To make a claim you must be able to show the person who wrote the will made you a promise. This promise doesn’t need to be in writing, it is often a spoken promise or encouragement supported by actions. You must also be able to show that you were reliant on this promise and suffered a loss as a result. For example, if you were not paid or declined a career or other opportunities to work at the family business, as you were promised you would inherit the business.
Depending on the facts, the court will either enforce the terms of the promise or order you to receive a sum of money reflecting the value of the disadvantage suffered.  For example, if you were promised a property, the court could transfer this to you regardless of the value of the disadvantage, or find a value for that disadvantage and make an award based on this calculation.

Estoppel is a legal principle that stops individuals from going back on a promise. There are two types; proprietary and promissory.

Proprietary estoppel occurs when an individual makes a promise, usually in relation to a property. An individual may have promised something upon their death, which has been relied on. This is commonly associated with will disputes.

In comparison, promissory estoppel is generally used in defence to a claim. This arises where there is a contractual relationship or duty of care.

Contact us

If you have a question or need advice, please let us know how we can help.